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What is mallet finger?

Rachel Rohde, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

Mallet finger, or inability to extend the joint at the very end of the finger, results from the tendon being torn from the bone. Sometimes the tendon tears off a piece of bone; this is called a “mallet fracture.” These are treated best by splinting the joint in slight hyperextension, allowing the tendon to heal. This splint usually is kept in place constantly for six to eight weeks.

Mallet finger is also called baseball or basketball finger, as the tip of the finger is hit by a ball, which causes an extensor tendon to tear away from the bone. This results in an inability to straighten the last joint of the finger.

Mallet finger is often treated with the use of a specially-designed splint that covers only the injured joint. The splint must be worn continuously for a minimum of six weeks to allow the tendon to heal. In some cases, surgery may be needed if it doesn’t heal.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Indiana University Athletic Training Education Program)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.